A Buying Guide to the Best Cycling Rollers to Train on Your Bike Indoor
Until a few days ago, I never thought I would’ve ever wrote a buying guide for the best bike rollers. Cycling indoor is really not my thing but in light of the recent events, seems like many riders might want to know how to keep training indoor and what the best cycling rollers on the market are.
I’m writing this post while stuck in Tanzania during our cross-Africa cycling trip, I already miss cycling and the open spaces, but we must adapt, and cycling rollers are the next best thing to riding your bike on the road or on trails.
So when Mother Nature or your government’s safety measures decide that you can’t go riding, fear not, keep on riding and find out what are the best cycling roller for your needs and budget. So that when you’ll be able to get outside again, you’ll find your legs haven’t missed a beat.
All those products are described in detail below the buying guide, keep on reading!
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What are Bike Rollers?
Bike rollers consist usually of a rectangular frame (adjustable to fit your bike length) and three rollers, they are designed to ride your bike with both wheels on and get a realistic, challenging ride.
Riding on cycling rollers though is not super-easy, it takes a while to get accustomed to stationary riding, the learning curve is quite steep and you might fall at the beginning, that’s why getting rollers with a step-guard or something hybrid like the Omnium Zero-Drive (check below) might be a good idea if you never tried cycling on rollers before.
Rollers are notorious for requiring more of a learning curve than traditional trainers (which are also more expensive), the trade-off for how realistic they feel.
They are a great way to improve bike balance and handling skills, increase pedal efficiency, top end cadence/speed, activate muscles, and just keep fit in general.
Rollers can be used with any kind of bike whose wheelbase (the distance between the rear and front axle) fits the roller in question, be sure to measure your bike before buying your new cycling rollers.
Keep in mind that, the wider the tire the louder the noise, when training with mountain bike for example, because of the high friction of mountain bike tyres, there might be some annoying noise.
Conical Shaped Rollers (Parabolic) VS Crowned Rollers VS Cylindrical Rollers
Traditional bike rollers have a cylindrical shape, compared to the ones mentioned below, those are a bit harder to get the hang of, since there’s no additional force keeping you wheel centered.
There are then two more schools of thought in bike rollers, conical rollers (also called parabolic) and crowned rollers. These two designs make the same claim yet they are opposite, they both should draw the bike towards the center of the roller, thus increasing the stability.
Crowned rollers work by directing the wheel toward the highest point (the center). This happens because there is more surface on the uphill side of the tire and therefore it can grip more. The same as if you accidentally rub your tire against a curb, you hop up it.
Secondly, on rollers, the larger the diameter the less rolling resistance there is, due to the tire having less deformation. Since crowned rollers have a larger center the tire naturally goes toward the path of least resistance.
The concept of crowned pulleys, while actually pretty new to rollers, is well established in other belt driven equipment, such as bend-saws.
Conical rollers obtain the same results through a steep angle driving the wheel towards the center thanks to gravity. The slope encourages the wheel to the center of the roller, creating stability.
The 7 Best Bike Rollers Compared and Reviewed
Here are our top picks for the best bike rollers in 2020, let us know in the comment section if you own some cycling rollers you love that are not featured in this article
About the brand: Tacx started in 1957 as a bike and repair shop in Wassenaar, Netherlands. In ‘69 they opened a small factory manufacturing cycling rollers, indoor bike trainers, and bike carriers for cars. Later on bottles and tools were added to their assortment.
The Tacx Roller Galaxia are conical rollers, meaning they are are tapered inward, keeping wheels centered for optimal stability. The patented swing system rocks back and forth, absorbing acceleration and deceleration.
They feature a convenient foldable design (31.5” x 19.7” x 5.31” when folded), with a maximum footprint of 53” by 19.7” when extended. The diameter is approximately 4″ and 3.5″ near the center.
The front roller spins equally for extra stability and speed tracking , those are entirely mechanical bike rollers, no power required, durable and maintenance free.
Thanks to its oscillating part, although at a first glance it may seem otherwise, the Tracx Galaxy cycling rollers provides outstanding stability on the bike. This swinging makes the rolls move harmonically with the cyclist and his/her pedaling, allowing great freedom of movement without risking to fall down.
The kinetic energy generated during acceleration make roll moves forward, and when speed decreases the roller leans back automatically. Stability is the obsession of Tacx on its rolls, and with the galaxy they have reached high levels in this regard.
Minoura manufactures a complete gamma of bike rollers that can certanly be mentioned among the best cycling rollers out there.
We decided to feature the Moz, among the others (have a look at the link above), because of their compact size and light weight-tag that makes it ideal for the cyclists who don’t want to miss a training session, even on vacation.
The Minoura MoZ alloy frame folds indeed in a very compact way, at only 55x18cm (20×7″) and weights only 6kg! The reduced weight might compromize a bit the stability but it really doesn’t get lighter and smaller than this.
Japanese precision is another selling point of this bike rollers, 80mm x 420mm alloy drums with catridge bearings provide a smooth, and quiet ride – it doesn’t fear rust – while the urethane belt has been proven to be very durable.
The adjustable length makes it usable for bicycles between 950mm and 1090mm in wheelbase, the step guard helps beginners hopping on and off the bike.
ELITE Arion Mag Rollers feature neodymium magnets integrated into smooth, anti-static plastic rollers. offering three magnetic resistance levels provide an easy transition from no resistance for easy recovery rides or warm-ups, to low and high resistance for tougher home workouts.
The parabolic shaped drums offer a good ride control, pushing the bike towards the center of the rollers.
By using the Misuro B+ sensor (not included) the ARION MAG becomes compatible with ELITE’s My E-Training (1-month free subscription). This manages the training session by monitoring power, cadence, heart rate, speed, time and distance data.
Moreover, it makes it compatible with other indoor cycling platforms (which usually require paid subscription), such as TrainerRoad, The Sufferfest, Kinomap and many more. This is how you can range from traditional training sessions to a more complete experience where training, gaming and social combine into one solution.
The Elite Arion Mag features a platform construction that simplifies mounting and dismounting and an integrated handle for easier transport. At about 10kg, they are not as ultralight as the Minoura but the entire setup is foldable, so you can travel with the Arion Mag or store it with ease.
If the Elite Arion Mag are out of your budget have a look at this cheaper version for about 200$. If you like the brand but want something more hi-end, keep on reading.
3 Resistance Level
You have to get off the bike in order to change the resistance
We could think of Soozier’s roller bike trainer as a cheaper version of the Elite. If you want to train indoors but have a low-budget then those are the perfect cycling rollers for you.
The Soozier indoor bike trainer has an adjustable front roller that will fit most bikes with wheel sizes of 24″, 26″, 28″, 29″, and 700C, with a wheelbase between 970-1090mm.
It features three 5.25″ dynamically balanced HDPE rollers with sealed ball bearings and a durable PE nylon belt which is not the quietest around but still bearable.
The materials are a combination of steel and aluminum, weighing only 17.5 lbs (7kg), able to withstand a maximum load of 265 lbs (120kg). Another lightweight indoor trainer that is perfect for travel, great to warm-up for competitions.
Includes an anti-slip step for added convenience and safety for beginners. The Soozier bike rollers are a real bang for the buck!
First of all, they are designed and assembled in the USA, great quality control, precision-engineering, and durability. Then there’s the fit, with its elevated rear rollers creating a level axle-axle plane so your bike feels like riding on the road.
The patented design of the Crown Rollers makes them among the most stable rollers available, their crown shaped rollers encourages the wheels to seek the center ( Larger Diameter Roller = Less Resistance/Smaller Diameter = More Resistance, the wheel will go where less resistance is).
Their weight is not on the light side, at 20lbs (9kg) they are pretty heavy which actually helps with stability. The telescoping design though makes travel and storage still pretty convenient.
The rollers themselves have a diameter of 85mm in their thicker point and a lenght of 400mm, they are made of rust-proof aluminum. The Crown Rollers are adjustable to fit bikes with a wheelbase from 35.7 to 46.1 inches (90.6cm to 117cm).
Crown Rollers do not have adjustable resistance, they rely on the mass of the rollers and the rider’s gearing to provide it.
About the Brand: Feedback Sports is a small family brand from Colorado, specialized in bike storage, rollers, and tool-kits, including workshop bike stands. Theysupport several no-profit organizations.
Something in-between a trainer and a bike roller, the Omnium Zero Drive is great for beginners and competitive cyclists alike.
The adaptable fork-mount design makes it stable like a standard trainer with the minimal resistance of traditional rollers. It accepts standard QR, 12×100, 15×100 & 15×110 (Boost) thru axles. No risks of falling down, at the expenses of some real-ride feeling.
The Omnium Zero-Drive is optimized for high cadence pre-race warm-up, with no additional resistance it feels similar to rollers and performs like a trainer. It is foldable and compact, weights only 13.3lbs (6.03kg) and can be stored in a small drawer and even on a overhead bin of a plane, which makes it ideal for travel.
Aluminum drums and red anodized frame can accommodate wheelbases up to 1348mm with the optional extender. Includes heavy-duty tote bag for transport and storage and no tools are required for assembly/storage. The noise is very limited.
We already mentioned one Elite product, but those guys really rock the roller game so we decided to include one more.
The Elite Arion Digital Smart B+ is a smart, interactive bike roller conceived to fullfill the needs of the geekiest cyclists. Total interaction with the app, software and devices with ANT+ Sensors (FE-C trainers) and Bluetooth Smart protocol, allows you to completely monitor the workout.
The Magnetic Resistance is electronically controlled with a slope simulations up to 6%, no need to get off the bike to adjust, just keep riding and control it through the app (includes 12 months free subscription to the Elite My Entraining App). There are also training sessions in-within the app where the resistance automatically changes periodically to simulate a varied terrain. A very advanced system which is easy to use and user-friendly.
This smart roller by Elite is compatible with both road and mountain bikes wheels. The front roller is adjustable with 10 different positions to allow a perfect compatibility with the frame of the bike you’re using, fits wheelbase from 944mm to 1124mm.
Being a smart trainer, the Elite Arion Digital Smart B+ needs of course to be plugged into an eletrical socket. The rollers are ultra-silent and feature a foldable design for convenient storage.
Are Parabolic Rollers better than Traditional Ones?
Parabolic or crowned rollers are easier for beginners, drawing your wheel towards the center helps balancing on your bike.
Are Rollers Good for Training?
Cycling rollers are a great way to improve bike balance and handling skills, increase pedal efficiency, top end cadence/speed, activate muscles, and just keep fit in general.
Are Bike Rollers Better than Trainers?
Cycling trainers offer higher resistance compared to rollers. Trainers are more stable but rollers feel more similar to a real ride. Unless you are using smart rollers then you’ll have way less training data when using rollers instead of a trainer. Trainers are more expensive than rollers.